This past weekend was one I look forward to each year in the Fall. Our organization incorporates progressive development in order to provide our athletes with the best long-term benefit possible.  Long-Term planning is something the majority of the programs we play do not understand and surely do not have as a priority. Our organization typically plays to develop all and teaches the skill requirements in a sequential and progressive manner making sure the proper foundation is being built.  We typically get beat up pretty bad at the start of each season.  We are moving players all around the field challenging them to new positions and new skill requirements. We balance the pitching so all players on the team can get an opportunity to develop while protecting each player’s developmental process making sure protect against avoidable arm injuries.

Our competition recruits the top athletes, the ones that meet the eye test, typically bigger, stronger, faster as early bloomers. Their focus is on winning and the social impact of winning is sold to the parents. Parents who think if they are winning, they are in the right environment.  Any program that is playing competitive baseball that wins tournament championships week in and week out, especially by wide margins, are fooling themselves into thinking they are progressively developing their players.  If you are not getting beat, you are not getting better!  If you are not playing top competition and learning competitive adaptability, you are not getting better!

Game 1

One of the teams we played this weekend had great looking uniforms, good looking players and the most arrogant coach on planet earth.    In the first game, our team played them, we were down most of the game but stayed close and came back to win the game. The coach was beside himself making statements out loud to his team about his disappointment.  The loss ruined their weekend and they never recovered.  Unfortunately looking better and being physically more mature does not allow you to execute necessary skills to beat a team that has a proper foundation.  Focusing on the skills of the game and making sure they are being executed in competition is the most important factor that is completely overlooked by many.  This coach proves a history of underachievement due to his aggressive, loud and belittling approach.  He needs to take a look in the mirror and seek help to learn how to develop and motivate kids.  Maybe the humble sandwich he had to eat this weekend will help him look further into developing his skills so his players can benefit.

On the second day, we again earned the opportunity to play this team again. The coach came over to our head coach (female) and began to tell her all the credentials he has, blah, blah, blah…  Little did he know while talking down to our head coach that she was a two time NCAA Division I All American, Team USA and professional softball player.  She also is currently a National Team Pitching Coach, was a former Division I and II Head College coach and a proven leader of athletes.  He did not know this because a professional does not state these items to try to impress someone, they do the talking on the field of play and hold their actions above toxic people that can cause problems.  Insecure and unprepared coaches try to intimidate and impose themselves on their opponents.  Sometimes that works!

The opposing coach was loud and very frustrated with his players.  However,  never in his life has he ever been able to throw or hit a baseball with any level of success, but he sure was able to identify every flaw in his players.  The arrogance and ignorance that was displayed exemplify the problems we have today in developing young athletes.  How can families continue to bury their heads in the sand and know deep inside their kid is not in a healthy environment that will benefit long-term growth?  He is obviously not qualified to coach baseball much less lead young men.

The most beneficial thing for parents to understand is to teach their child how to compete and how to be a good teammate.  Commit to a program of players, develop together and learn how to compete and win against top competition.  Be sure you have a professional, someone qualified in progressive development who has a proven track record.  If you are playing on a team where 2 pitchers throw 70% of every inning pitched and a total of 4 pitchers throw the balance of innings thrown, then you should be able to figure out that formula is not going to work.  However, many coaches and programs throw the used and abused to the roadside and just go recruit a fill-in they eventually ruin as well.

Game 3

So in the second game, we play this arrogant coach again. Unfortunately, because of his actions and the pressure he was putting on his players, they were not performing as well as they could and our team again handled them, beating them for the second time in 24 hours.  The coach was getting so frustrated with his players he was saying things he should not say.  Again, due to his arrogance and ignorance, he said many things that define his character and solidifies him as a menace to coaching.  He is toxic and should never be on the field of play again around young men who are trusting his guidance.  The parents of these players will one day learn the hard way.

The menace coach yells out at his players “We should be beating this team by 11 runs!!!”.  OK, wait a minute… What?  That menace of a coach was talking down to our players, families, and organization.  The truth is he embarrassed himself and stated the obvious.  He is right, his team was bigger, stronger and more arrogant but they did not have more skilled and prepared players.   Justice was served!  Our team went on to a 4-0 weekend beating two teams that could have easily beat us.

Our 13U team had been playing up at 14U all Fall and we had 3 12U players on our roster who were entering their High School programs and wanted to get ready for the Big Diamond.  On this particular weekend there were not enough 14U teams to play so we played in our own age group.  Over the course of this fall season, we lost 75% of our games and got completely dominated against on multiple occasions. However, we got better, we learned to compete, we were able to grow tougher and learned how to fight.  There were many struggles and the families and players became discouraged wondering the value of getting beat up like we were getting beat up.  The experience paid off, proving our players have learned competitive adaptability.

“We should be beating this team by 11 runs”… the menace coach is right, however, they did not and they provide motivation for the players who love and respect the game and who are well-rounded student-athletes who make their communities better in every aspect.  Overachievers who continue to find ways to win in life while respecting the process of learning a skill with good old fashion hard work.  I am proud to say Stars and Stripes Sports serves committed families who value the importance of proper progressive development on and off the field. We may not have as much bling as other organizations who recruit the best athletes and exploit parents ego’s, but there is a great amount of satisfaction of seeing these kids win in life!